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150218 An introduction to Tai Chi part 2 of 2

150218 An introduction to Tai Chi part 2 of 2 

There are different styles of Tai-Chi, some are more aggressive than others and involve faster paced movements. Those most commonly practiced utilize gentle slower motions that are suitable for everyone.

As with anything in life there are positives and negatives in the practice of Tai-Chi. The pros seem to outweigh the cons though in these respects:

  • The movements are self-paced and non competitive, which to a competitive person may be a negative attribute.
  • The physical space requirements are negligible as well as the attire. You don’t need a lot of space or fancy gear to take part in Tai-Chi. It’s easy to do; you can do it anyplace and anytime either alone or with others. Once you become accustomed to the activity and more proficient in the art then you can add in your own to make it even more individualized and specific to your needs.

The negatives are almost non existent but do include the usual warnings of possible soreness if the first few sessions are overdone beyond your current physical fitness levels.

Beginning a new activity starts with learning how to do it correctly. In the case of Tai-Chi this will mean seeking out a competent instructor who will guide you in the technical aspects of posture and movement. Pay strict attention to your breathing and body position throughout the training session. Develop the ability to perform the motions effortlessly and without conscious thought. Doing so helps avert muscle strains and damaged joints.

Tai-Chi classes are taught throughout the world. In the United States contact your local senior center, the YWCA or YMCA or check with the gyms in your area. You can even look it up on the internet; there are scores of sites listed.

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261217 Is your grip width destroying your shoulders?

261217 Is your grip width destroying your shoulders?

Where you grip the bar may be the best predictor of how you will injure your shoulders. Research in England has determined that certain widths related to a person’s body size may increase your chance of becoming injured while performing the bench press. A closer look at the anatomical structure of the shoulder may help to explain why this is such a common occurrence.

The shoulder, unlike the hip joint which is a true ball and socket joint, is a semi and shallow ball and socket joint. This means the skeletal bones directly involved in the bench press motion are not mechanically secure. Unlike the hip, the integrity of the shoulder primarily relies on the muscles, ligaments and tendons to keep it intact and not the joint structures. Incidentally, in some literature the shoulder is not even considered a true joint. I consider the shoulder as a joint and as such will continue to refer to it as one.

One of the main primary structures within the shoulder is the glenohumeral joint. When bench pressing this part of the shoulder supports the weight and is subjected to the constant heavy loads of the active lifter.

While benching wide with the upper arms at or near perpendicular to the upper torso the shoulders are placed into external rotation. According to the research ‘ninety degrees of abduction combined with end of range external rotation has been defined as the “at risk position” that may increase the risk of shoulder injuries.’

Now comes the pay attention part of this article. These research findings have clearly shown that benching with a hand grip greater than or equal to ‘2’ bi-acromial widths-the distance between the acromion processes, i.e. shoulder width, is destructive to your shoulders. For the ease of conversation the bi-acromial width is basically measured at the ends of both of the collar bones.

In fact a grip width greater than 1.5 bi-acromial width increases the torque on the shoulder by 1.5 times when compared to that of a narrow grip less than 1.5 bi-acromial width.

For those of you who think that taking up a wide grip on the bar (100%-190% biacromial width) gives you additional pounds you are exactly right; it does. You may realize a slight gain of less than 5% total to your maximum with these extreme grip widths but over the long haul the cost to your shoulders may be prohibitive. At the outer ranges of width the recruitment and activation of your pectoralis major is nearly insignificant in comparison to the narrow and safer grip.

When using the narrower grip positions your triceps brachii are more involved thus making this an ideal triceps building exercise while at the same time saving your elbows from potential damage.

Summary: Constantly bench pressing with a wide grip on the bar is a prelude to an eventual shoulder injury. This is a classic case of risk versus benefit; is it worth your shoulder health to be able to bench a few more pounds?

NSCA Strength and Conditioning Journal October 2007. The affect of grip width on bench press performance and risk of injury by Green, C. M. and Comfort, P.

051217 Breakfast Power by Glenn Cardwell, part 2

051217 Breakfast Power by Glenn Cardwell, part 2

Breakfast
Not long ago I was asked to review the science on the benefits of breakfast for a cereal company. Although it is a common truism that “breakfast is good for you” I wanted to know if it remains good advice. So I plunged into 30+ research papers to see what was agreed about the first meal of the day. Here is what I learned.

A large Australian study from last year showed that breakfast was critical for school performance, boosting both literacy and numeracy skills, independent of the socio-economic group. This backed up a review of the previous 50 years of studies in school children. There is no doubt that breakfast is necessary to help you to learn new stuff. Usually not difficult with primary school kids because they wake up hungry. It is the upper high school kids we need to convince.

Breakfast habits changing
Twenty years ago just about every young kid ate breakfast, with only some older teenagers giving it a miss, rising to 15% of 19-24 year olds being breakfast skippers. Now we have nearly 1 in 4 of upper high school students missing breakfast, in Australia at least.

Two decades ago, over three quarters of adults ate breakfast. Now barely 6 out of 10 adults regularly eat breakfast, women being better than the menfolk. Why the decline? The most common excuse is “not enough time”, in other words not enough time to pour out cereal into a bowl, add milk and consume (Gee, that’s gotta take 6 whole minutes) or plonk two slices of bread into the toaster, shave/brush hair/pack lunch while you wait, then add peanut butter. Let’s see, that’s 7.5 minutes.

But then my concept of time and food differs to most people, a fact I accept and have resigned myself to, especially since the day I saw a line of cars outside the drive-thru section of a famous takeaway at 8 am on a school day.

What if you don’t fancy breakfast?
Don’t know how you can do it, frankly. Me? I can’t do without breakfast. No breakfast and I can’t do up shirt buttons, I squeeze Heel Balm onto my toothbrush and drive into oncoming traffic. I have a court order to eat breakfast by 7.30 am or face serving jail time.

You, of course, may be able to get away with it. Can I suggest that you at least have a banana, a yogurt or one of those breakfast drinks as you leave the house? With some glucose racing through your arteries you will make better decisions. Then, when you do feel hungry, eat smart, like choose a sandwich, fruit or a smoothie and not scarf some eye-level, salty, extruded snack from the vending machine. Just the term “extruded snack” should put you off.

What does it all mean?
It means what it has always meaned. Clever people eat breakfast and breakfast eating makes you clever. The evidence is pretty over-whelming.

There are plenty of choices to kick-start the day – breakfast cereals or muesli with milk, topped with nuts or a banana (my choice), wholegrain toast with peanut butter, poached eggs and mushrooms on toast, yogurt and canned fruit and you can think of more. If you buy your breakfast look beyond the cappuccino and croissant because you are worth a lot more than that. A lot more.

Selected references:

  • O’Dea JA, Mugridge AC. Nutritional quality of breakfast and physical activity independently predict the literacy and numeracy scores of children after adjusting for socioeconomic status. Health Education Research 2012; 27 (6): 975-985
    • Hoyland A, Dye L, Lawton CL. A systematic review of the effect of breakfast on the cognitive performance of children and adolescents. Nutrition Research Reviews 2009; 22: 220-243
    • Astbury NM, Taylor MA, Macdonald IA. Breakfast consumption affects appetite, energy intake, and the metabolic and endocrine responses to foods consumed later in the day in male habitual breakfast eaters. The Journal of Nutrition 2011; 141: 1381-1389

281117 Breakfast Power by Glenn Cardwell, part 1

281117 Breakfast Power by Glenn Cardwell

I have communicated with and known Glenn for over 6 years now. He offers excellent advice and recommendations for healthy eating in an easily understood and  simple to follow manner. Danny M. O’Dell

Breakfast
Not long ago I was asked to review the science on the benefits of breakfast for a cereal company. Although it is a common truism that “breakfast is good for you” I wanted to know if it remains good advice. So I plunged into 30+ research papers to see what was agreed about the first meal of the day. Here is what I learned.

Leaner
Breakfast eaters are less likely to be chubby. And it doesn’t matter if you are at primary school, university or calling the shots from head office. That might be all you need to know to reach for the cereal bowl. So, why are breakfasters likely to be leaner? You can probably take a good logical guess at that yourself.

Breakfast eaters are more likely to be active and eat a decent diet for the rest of the day. No surprise there. If you are fit, you get more hungry and can’t bypass breakfast. It may also be that eating soon after arising helps regulate your appetite control hormones, normalise your blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity. There is some evidence that a long fast leads to higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that may stimulate hunger and overeating.

Lifelong benefits
Breakfast doesn’t just pay dividends in the morning; it seems to give a good return on investment at the back end of life too. Breakfast skippers have a higher total cholesterol, higher LDL cholesterol (the evil one), an extra 5 cm (2 inches) of belt leather needed and, in one US study, a 21% greater risk of type 2 diabetes.

Smarter
It seems that with breakfast, you are more likely to meet your nutrient needs for the day. This may be because most breakfast choices are nutritious. Many breakfast cereals are fortified with nutrients like iron and folate. Milk or yogurt adds calcium and riboflavin. Add fruit or nuts and there is vitamin C, potassium, fibre, and on it goes. Miss breakfast and those two biscuits with coffee at morning tea don’t exactly make up the loss.

 

211117 Avoid Breakfast Mistakes

211117 Avoid Breakfast Mistakes

You likely know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Your athletes need fuel to perform in the classroom and in their sport. Encourage your athletes to eat breakfast but to avoid commons mistakes .

Not Enough Protein – A bowl of cereal with low fat milk is good, but most people don’t drink all the milk that goes with the cereal and that amounts to eight grams of protein! A hard boiled egg, 100% whole grain toast w/ peanut or almond butter gives extra protein.

Too Little Fiber – Avoid sugary breakfast cereal options! Cereal should have at least FIVE grams of fiber, and always more fiber than sugar.

No Fat – A breakfast with no fat will make you hungry within an hour. Cereal, berries and low fat milk delivers the fat you need.

Too Late in the Day – Eat breakfast within an hour of waking

Not Enough Food – Fruit is good but not enough food for breakfast Your athletes should consume 300-400 calories.

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The science-based contents of the Washington Interscholastic Nutrition Forum (WINForum) Site and Nutrition Navigator, such as text, graphics, images, and other material are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. WINForum clinics are accredited by the WIAA for coaches credit hours, and promote a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and low fat or fat free dairy.

071117 Testing your training program

071117 Testing your training program

Do you think we are able to continually bring home world championships by not following a carefully designed workout schedule? The quick answer is NO. Every set, rep and selected exercise is considered based on the relationship to the ultimate goal-personal bests.

We use clearly established test days throughout the training schedule.

Once every four to six weeks a mechanism to evaluate the effectiveness of your schedule ought to be put into effect. Is your squat lift poundage actually going up or are you stagnated? Can you Military press more now than two months ago? Is anything better now? You will not know unless you test.

Without periodic tests, you are wasting your time and energy on a potentially non-productive workout schedule. In each training session, a set goal is established or should be established. At the end of the particular series of training sessions in the mesocycle, measurable results should be obtained. If they are not what was expected, then changes to the program are necessary for further progress to be achieved.

Building into the program regularly scheduled ‘test days’ gives these direct benefits:

  • It measures the validity of the strength program design
  • It clearly indicates a benchmark day; one that will give instant feedback.
  • It will provide incentive to go onto the next phase of the training.
  • It will put in a semi rest day of low volume.

Depending on the mesocycle we test on a regularly scheduled basis all of our lifts. Consider doing so in your program and see how you stand relative to your objectives.

171017 Are you contemplating losing weight or does your spouse just call you Chunky? (1 of 3)

171017 Are you contemplating losing weight or does your spouse just call you Chunky?

The problem

Nearly every newspaper or magazine on the stands has an article about the obesity problem in today’s modern society. In case you are not aware of the dangers of being overweight here are just a few of the conditions that can have a major impact on your quality of life and on your lifespan. Obesity increases your chance of developing heart disease, hypertension, type two diabetes, cancer, arthritis, asthma, and sleep disorders.

Losing weight can oftentimes help prevent these diseases from occurring. As you begin your self-examination, two potential areas of concern rise to the top of the list: ‘Fat location’ and ‘Fat surplus’. Fat storage locations in the body are a leading predictor of things to come.

The where

An ‘apple shaped’ (android obesity) body style carries the weight around the waist and will present more health risks than will be a ‘Pear shaped’ (gynoid obesity) or one who carries the weight around their hips. Most overweight males carry their weight around their stomachs. This is not good, but there are ways to tell where you are carrying a predominant amount of your fat in case you haven’t noticed yourself in the mirror. “There is a positive correlation between the abdominal fat content and the waist circumference measurement”. All of the fat clings like glue to your organs; it just hangs around in there doing nothing but harm.

031017 Question of rest time between exercise sessions

031017 Question of rest time between exercise sessions

I’m a little confused on how long I should wait in between strength training sessions. I was always told 2 days but now someone has told me that if I do an intensive lower body training session I should wait an entire week before going back to that muscle group to allow a true and full recovery. Is this true

Answer:
In my opinion a week is way to long to wait between sessions. Your muscles will be into the detraining zone. Two days isn’t bad but you lose a lot of training time waiting. I would not suggest a one weeks wait in between muscle groups, even the largest muscles in your body, i.e. your back and legs should be recovering within two to three days at the most. The majority will recover within one to two days even after an intense workout. Are you getting my training newsletter? If so I am addressing recovery issues for the next several months.

Elite athletes are lifting up to 14 times a week. You may not be in the elite ranks right now so it may be better to lift according to your experience level. For instance, if you have been lifting under six months then twice a week will get you going. Over six months you may consider three times per week. In my gym after a year of training time I have many of my trainees on a four day program. With the exception of my competitive athletes I am not saying I want them in my gym four times a week. Since most of them have their own gear I eventually want them lifting at home or elsewhere. I am not in favor of creating a dependent relationship with those who train with me. I expect them to learn and apply what they have learned to their own circumstances by thinking about their training and discovering what is working and what isn’t, then they plan their own course of action.

Taking into consideration the issue of muscle soreness as a reason to wait seven days; if you are still sore seven days post exercise then you have possibly suffered an injury. On the other hand being sore is not an indicator that you need to stop exercising as this soreness will evaporate shortly after the first one or two movement specific warm up sets. Joint tightness helps produce more power output as the joints aren’t fighting a loose set up but are instead closer to the levers actual working ranges.

260917 Recovering from an exercise session

260917 Recovering from an exercise session

Exercise is a way of life for many people; they stay active longer into their lives while remaining mentally and physically sharper than their non-exercising friends. An active lifestyle requires a firm dedication to living a healthy life through good food choices and exercise. Sometimes being active brings with it a few aches and pains.

There are moments though when, especially after a particularly hard training session, soreness may occur. Even though this may be a cause for concern, there are strategies that may be used to relieve some of this discomfort.

Use a cool down after your session is completed. These few minutes of less vigorous activity help your body to return to its pre-exercise status by lowering your breathing, heart rate, and temperature back to near normal numbers. This time aids in the recovery of the muscles and cardiovascular systems.

Static stretching after the initial cool down gives the muscles a chance to relax and gives you a moment or two to improve your flexibility at the same time. Stretches are particularly effective now because the muscles, tendons and ligaments are all warm and flexible; just what is necessary to be productive.

Athletes generally weigh themselves before and after training sessions. This is to ensure they are staying properly hydrated. A recreational athlete might consider doing the same for the same reasons because a loss of fluids causes a loss of mental and physical sharpness. The rule of thumb is a pint a pound. Therefore, for every pound you lose exercising you need to drink at least 16 ounces. The exception to this is for an extreme endurance athlete or the salty sweater (1), not only is water important but so are the electrolytes.

Give your muscles the nutrients necessary to repair themselves after the session. Low fat chocolate milk is ideal in this situation because it has a good balance of carbohydrates and protein in each pint. Drinking one of these within ten to fifteen minutes pushes the glycogen back into your muscles and this helps them recover faster meaning a quicker return to your favorite activity.

190917 Special strength and the athlete

190917 Special strength and the athlete

We all know that not everyone is born with the same capabilities to display awesome strength. It’s a fact of life that some of us just don’t have the right combinations of fast twitch to slow twitch fibers. However, each of us can make a difference in our strength levels through proper training schedules. How we go about setting up these training regimens is the topic of this article.

There are minute differences in each muscle fiber type, and these differences make up the ability to run long distances or to lift heavy weights. Some are nearly all fast twitch with nary a hint of a slow twitch characteristic in them. At the other end of the spectrum are the slow twitch fibers with an amazing ability to keep on keeping on. Somewhere in the middle lay the in-between fibers the type two ‘a’ and ‘b’. Not quite all out fast twitch and not fully slow twitch either.

Determining the precise ratio of fast to slow twitch fibers is in the realm of the scientists but a few easy to follow tests may give an astute coach a clue as to the direction the training program would realistically follow. Dr. Fred Hatfield, also known as Dr. Squat, came up with a useful gauge for program planning based on the individuals’ fiber makeup. Here’s the test.

Determine the one repetition maximum, without equipment, in the lifts of your choice. Now take eighty percent of that one rep max. Do as many repetitions as possible with this weight. If you are able to do four to six repetitions, and no more with good form, then you are more than likely genetically gifted with a larger amount of type two fibers-the fibers that produce high force but wear out quickly due to their lack of endurance. These fibers operate within the rapidly consumed ATP/CP energy sphere. They fatigue easily, have fewer mitochondria and few capillaries supplying them with fuel.

If on the other hand you are able to do more than fifteen then you probably, have an abundance of type one fibers. These contain a greater percentage of mitochondria, a higher aerobic enzyme capacity and much more dense capillary concentrations. They allow you to go longer but the force output possibilities are lower.

In the middle of these two extreme rep ranges, we have the seven to fourteen ranges. These individuals will have predominance of in-between fibers. Not that many fast twitch and not that many slow twitch fibers.

So what do you do with this information once you’ve found it out? If you know your trainee is a fast twitch sort of person then design the program around this aspect. Keep the reps low and the sets higher. Two to six reps for ten to four sets respectively. Keep in mind that performing four sets of six reps will be physiologically harder on the system than doing twelve sets of two reps.

If they lean more toward the slow twitch end of the continuum then have them doing higher repetitions and fewer sets.

Now that you have a brief idea of the direction you will be going with your training plans, don’t forget to add in a few higher and intermediate reps and sets schedules for those who have the majority of fast twitch fibers. Take advantage of your trainees’ strong points but don’t overly neglect the rest of the points either.

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